What is a Tuner?
A tuner is a device musicians use to detect pitch accuracy. It will let a musician know
if the note
they are playing is sharp (too high), flat (too low), or if it is in tune. The accuracy
of a pitch
is what musicians call intonation. Tuners work by detecting the frequency of the pitch
waves). For example, an A is 440 hz. If an A is sharp, it will be 441 hz or higher. If
it is flat,
it will register as 439 hz or lower. While tuners work by tracking hertz, musicians
close they are to the pitch in measurements of cents. Cents and hertz are not the same
How To Use A Chromatic Tuner
Playing with a tuner will help develop your intonation and an understanding of the
your instrument. To use this instrument tuner, make sure the built in microphone has web
- Play any note. You will see the needle move and the strobe rotate until it finds the
are playing. This tuner is tuned to A440. Remember, these notes are shown in concert
you play guitar, piano, or another instrument pitched in C, then you will see the
note name of
the pitch you play. If you play an instrument that needs to transpose, like trumpet
horn, then you will need to understand how to transpose.
- Once the tuner recognizes what note you are playing, try to adjust it so that it
steady and centered on the dial. If you had to bring the pitch up, you were flat. If
you had to
bring the pitch down, then you were sharp.
- Make an adjustment to your instrument, either by adjusting a slide, a peg, or
instrument equivalent is. Play the note again. If the needle and strobe are centered
then your instument is tuned.
How To Practice With A Tuner
Even if your instrument is in tune, there might still be pitches within a musical passage
don't sound right. Here is a process to fix any out of tune notes.
- Start by checking to see if your instrument is generally well tuned.
- Identify the problem notes by playing through a short passage of music (no more
measures). These might be problem notes that are specific to you or they might be
tendencies with your instrument. For example, on wind instruments there are certain
that will naturally be sharp or flat.
- Once you have found those problem notes, play the passage of music slowly and then
stop and hold
the problem note and look at the tuner. Try to adjust the note so that it gets in
strobe will stay steady). This might mean changing fingerings, adjusting your
playing around with your air support.
- Remember the adjustment you made and replay the passage. When you get to the
problem note, try
to hit it with the adjustment in mind. Hold the note and look at the tuner. How did
- Repeat this process until you can consistently hit the note in tune.
- Write down what you needed to do in order to make the adjustment in your practice journal or notate it in your music.
What Causes A Note To Be Out of Tune?
- Temperature can cause an instrument to be out of tune. If an instrument is cold, it
will tend to
be flat. If it is hot, it will tend to be sharp. This can be challenging for wind
instruments heat up as they play them due to hot air.
- Fingering combinations. Wind instruments change pitch by making the instrument
shorter. An easy example to picture is the trombone. When a trombone player extends
the pitch gets lower. The same is true for all wind instruments. However, many
multiple ways to play the same pitch (Example: on a trumpet, pressing the first and
is the same as pressing just the third valve). Some fingerings have natural
tendencies to be
flat or sharp.
- Air support. For wind instruments and vocalists, air support can impact a note�s
enough air support will make the note flat.
- What role a note plays in a chord. A major chord is made of three notes (the root,
and the fifth). For a chord to sound in tune, the third will need to be lowered
(lowered by 14
cents) and the fifth will need to be raised (raised by 2 cents). If the third was to
perfectly according to a tuner, it would be out of tune with the rest of the chord.
How to Tune Chords
In the last bullet above, we saw that a chord can sound out of tune even though every
member of the
chord is showing as in tune on a tuner. This is known as "just intonation." This table
is just a
guide and not hard rules. Always default to your ear and the ears of those around you.
common way to discuss chords in a generic way is through numbers which represent the
relationship to the root of the chord. As an example, the C Major chord has a root of C
always be in the name of the chord). The next member of this chord is a third above it,
E, so we
call it the third.
|Major seventh chord
|minor seventh chord